THE Penang government must take accountability for the earlier plan to raise water prices again, said MCA vice-president Datuk Tan Teik Cheng (pic).
He pointed out that the “real culprit” of the plan to increase the water tariff — now put on hold by Federal Government — was Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP).
“If PBAPP did not have any intentions to raise the water tariff nor applied to do so, how could such a matter be handled by the Federal Government in the first place?
“Moreover, any sum from the water rate increase will enter the coffers of the state government, not Putrajaya, ” he said.
Tan was commenting on the water tariff increase proposal by PBAPP to National Water Services Commission (SPAN) that led to SPAN holding public consultations on the proposal.
“The Penang government wants to increase water tariffs and simultaneously revenue for the state.
“It should admit to Penangites that it indeed wants to raise water charges instead of just washing its hands off the responsibility.
“According to polls, a large number of Penangites disagree with any plans to make adjustments to water rates during the pandemic.
“The DAP-led Penang administration and PBAPP must heed public opinion.
“They must withdraw their proposal to adjust water rates as soon as possible to avoid further burdening Penangites, ” said Tan, who is also Penang MCA chairman.
Penang utilities committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari has responded in a statement that the public consultation by SPAN involved many states.
“SPAN started public consultations on water tariff reviews in 2019 and last year in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Selangor and Labuan.
“This year, SPAN held public consultations in Penang, Kedah, Perak, Melaka, Negri Sembilan and Johor, ” he pointed out.
Last Friday, PBAPP issued a statement saying that it applied to SPAN for a tariff review in 2019 to meet SPAN requirements for licence renewal from 2020 to 2022.
“All water tariff review proposals for all Malaysian states are subject to approval by Federal Government, ” said PBAPP.
“The state does not apply for water tariff reviews but as the licensed water operator that serves Penang, PBAPP submitted the review application to SPAN.”
PBAPP added that on July 21 last year, the Ministry of Environment and Water announced in Parliament that it would not approve any water tariff review in view of the pandemic.
“Hence, it is very clear that no water tariff review will be approved until the pandemic is resolved, ” PBAPP added.